Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, December 30, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the effort at liberating Ramadi is still incomplete, tensions rise between Turkey and Iraq, two people vying for their parties presidential nomination note Iraq today, and much more.

Saif Hameed and Ece Toksabay (REUTERS) report, "Iraq's prime minister accused Turkey on Wednesday of failing to respect an agreement to withdraw its troops from the country's north and its foreign minister said if forced, Iraq could resort to military action to defend its sovereignty."

This month found the government of Iraq objecting to the fact that Turkish troops were deployed to and stationed near Mosul.  They were formally asked to leave.  Xinhua notes, "Baghdad has insisted that the Turkish troops have no authorization from the Iraqi government and thus demanded their withdrawal, while Ankara called the troops only a routine rotation of the trainers."

When they refused, the Iraqi government appealed to the US government, the United Nations Security Council and the Arab League.

Last week, a body weighed in with a ruling.  SPUTNIK reported, "Turkey must withdraw immediately all its troops from Iraq without any preconditions, a statement unanimously adopted by members of the Arab League said Thursday."  AFP noted:

The Turkish deployment "is an assault on Iraqi sovereignty and a threat to Arab national security," they said in an Arab League statement after meeting at the pan-Arab bloc's Cairo headquarters.
Arab League deputy chief Ahmed Ben Heli read out the statement at a press conference, in which he added that the Turkish troops "increased tumult in the region."

SPUTNIK reports:

On Wednesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that Turkey had not honored a commitment to withdraw its troops from the region.
Abadi said in a statement that a Turkish delegation to Iraq promised to announce, upon returning to Ankara, that Turkey would withdraw its troops, "but the Turkish government has not respected the agreement and we request that the Turkish government announce immediately that it will withdraw from Iraqi territory."

And Turkey's response?  Al Arabiya News reports:

Speaking during an interview on NTV, [Prime Minister Ahmet] Davutoglu acknowledged there had been "miscommunication" over the troop deployment. He said that Ankara respected Iraqi sovereignty but added that Baghdad is not in control one third of its own territory.

Turkey announced earlier that it had begun withdrawing troops in a bid to soothe a bitter row with Baghdad and following a call from U.S. President Barack Obama.

And we'll note these two Tweets:

  • BOOM! 's FM: we can resort to military means to expel turkish troops if all peaceful means are ineffective!

  • Ouch! After Iraq threatened to use force against Turkish base in N.Iraq, Turkish PM Davutoglu:If Iraq has such military, it shd use on ISIS

  • So a country asks foreign troops to leave its borders and the second country refuses.  How does this happen?  SPUTNIK offers:

    The US-led coalition’s arrogance towards the ongoing anti-terrorist operation in Syria encouraged Turkey’s similar behavior in Iraq, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

    Lavrov thus described the US-led coalition's position on what is going on in Syria and Iraq: “Well, the Iraqis invited us to move in and we like Iraq, but we are still trying to tell them what is right and what is wrong…  As for Syria, it is a dictator, its days are numbered and we’ll keep bombing it without asking for permission from anyone. This is exactly what the Turks are now saying too,” he told the Moscow-based Zvezda television channel in an interview.

    Turning to Ramadi which is still in the process of liberation or 'liberation' . . .

  • Sorry bad news: the (i) army has not taken over and the majority of the city remains beyond its control

  • This morning, CNN offered Jethro Mullen and Nima Elbagir's "After retaking most of Ramadi from ISIS, Iraq sets sights on Mosul."

    Two days after the misinformation began to be released as news and Ramadi still has pockets controlled by the Islamic State.

    Bill Van Auken (WSWS) calls out a NEW YORK TIMES editorial rah-rah-rahing over the 'liberaton' of Ramadi:

    What the Times editors choose to cover up is the fact that the Iraqi flag was raised over a city that has been largely reduced to rubble by a protracted siege and at least 630 air strikes by US and allied warplanes. There were no crowds to hail Ramadi’s supposed liberation and there is, as yet, no indication of how many civilians have been killed in this military operation. One can assume that the death toll is high, however, given the massive scale of the destruction.
    The retaking of Ramadi will hardly go down as one of history’s great military feats. When the city fell to ISIS in May of 2015, about 600 ISIS fighters routed an Iraqi government force ten times larger. The insurgents were even more greatly outnumbered this time around, with at most 350 fighters thought to be in the city, meaning the Pentagon launched roughly two air strikes for every armed member of ISIS.

    On the destruction of Ramadi, Thomas Fessy (BBC News) notes:

    Ramadi is a city that has been sacrificed in battle. The scale of destruction is enormous, delaying the prospect of return for those who lived in areas that have been liberated.
    "We hope to go back as soon as possible, but we heard on the news that it has been so destroyed I know it's not going to happen any time soon," lamented Mr Najm.
    The UN says it will be essential to ensure conditions are in place for people to return in safety. 

    Little if any attention has been paid to the citizens of Ramadi or the destruction to the city via the 'liberation' effort.  Jason Ditz (ANTIWAR.COM) does note the destruction:

    Gen. Mahlawi said operations in Ramadi were paused for today because of the weather, and estimated that ISIS still controls about 30% of the city, such as it is. This is a surprising admission, as Iraq claimed total victory in the city days ago.
    Defense Minister Khaled Obeidi, meanwhile, told the cabinet Ramadi had been turned into a “ghost town,” and that 80% of the city is effectively destroyed. The Education Ministry said 260 schools were destroyed in the fighting, and would cost $500 million to rebuild by themselves.

    In the corporate media, little attention has been paid to exactly what the goal for the US government is.  The editorial board of THE PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE  is rightly skeptical of all the "crowing" over Ramadi and raises a few points including the following:

    The issue then becomes why America is doing this, nearly 13 years since its initial invasion of Iraq and four years after President George W. Bush agreed with the Iraqis that the United States would withdraw its forces.  

    Despite the attention the American media have given the re-taking of Ramadi, deeming it a triumph of President Barack Obama’s strategy for sustaining the Abadi government and combating the Islamic State, Americans don’t care who holds Ramadi. They would like to see a definitive end to the risk of U.S. lives and expenditure of U.S. assets in Iraq.

    When does it end?

    Why isn't that being asked?

    Oh, that's right, the so-called 'leaders' of the peace movement can't call out -- let alone question -- Barack Obama.  Whores whore.


    Meanwhile ABC News Tweets:

    First fighter jets take off from the USS Harry S. Truman to combat ISIS in Syria and Iraq.                                                                                                                                                                                                 

    Today, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Fighter, attack, bomber, and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 24 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
    -- Near Fallujah, a strike damaged an ISIL trench system.
    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bunker.
    -- Near Mosul, nine strikes struck six separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL assembly area, an ISIL bed-down location, 20 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, and an ISIL tunnel.
    -- Near Ramadi, seven strikes struck five separate ISIL tactical units, wounded an ISIL fighter, denied ISIL access to terrain, and destroyed an ISIL vehicle bomb, three ISIL vehicles, an ISIL tactical vehicle, an ISIL rocket rail, an ISIL building, an ISIL homemade explosives cache, an ISIL front-end loader, two ISIL fighting positions, and four ISIL heavy machine gun positions.
    -- Near Sinjar, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, suppressed an ISIL mortar position and destroyed an ISIL heavy machine gun and two ISIL fighting positions.
    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, two strikes destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions and suppressed an ISIL sniper position.
    -- Near Albu Hayat, a strike destroyed an ISIL tactical vehicle and an ISIL vehicle.
    -- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL vehicle bomb storage facility.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is a strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target.

    Turning to the US race for president, Senator Bernie Sanders is running for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

  • Our foreign policy has failed the American people and led to wars like the war in Iraq which we should never have gotten into.

  • We need to invest $1 trillion to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and create up to 13 million decent-paying jobs.

  • Business person Donald Trump is running for the GOP presidential nomination.  Today, he spoke in South Carolina -- BLOOMBERG NEWS posted video of the speech.  Among other things, he noted the ratings for the debate (Republican debates have been big draws for viewers).  We'll pick up where he's leading into Iraq.

    Donald Trump:  'Mr. Trump, you have thirty seconds, what would you do about ISIS?' Oh, great. Thank you.  And by the way, that question I hate those questions. You know why? Because I want to be unpredictable.  I don't want to tell ISIS what I'm going to do to knock the hell out of them. I hate it.  I hate it.  Remember, I said very strongly: Keep the oil for, what, four years. Four years.  I mean you've been watching.  Four years.  Get the oil.  Get the oil.  Because who's going to get the oil?  Iran is taking over Iraq.  We made a deal for Iran done by some of the dumbest people on earth on our side.  We gave them everything.  We don't even get our prisoners back. And now Iran wants to start negotiating seperately for the [release of the prisoners].  Can you believe it?  I go crazy.  We would have gotten them back.  All we had to do is say, "We want them back."  They would have said "no"?  I would have said, "I want them back. You don't understand me.  I want them back."  They would have said, "No, we won't do that"?  I would've said, "Bye-bye."  And I would've left.  Then I would have doubled up the sanctions.  And I guarantee you -- I guarantee you that within 24 hours they would have called back and they would  say, "You've got your prisoners, let's talk."  And I would have never given them 150 billion -- I would never have given them the money.  I would have never given them.  And they're using the money.  They don't have to make nuclear?  They can buy it, why do they have to make it?  And we have the nuclear where they have self-inspections.  How about the area,  the big area?  They don't want us there.  Oh, I wonder why? They don't want us there.  So they self-inspect.  Then they have the 24 day inspection.  But the self-inspection is the beauty: "We think you're making nuclear weapons here.  Well let us go check, Mr. President, we'll check.  No, sir, we're not making nuclear weapons.. Uh, no, nobody, we would never do a thing like that."  These are people that have lied to us, they've deceived us.  They are a terrorist state.  And I used to say it's the worst deal that I've ever seen negotiated.  And by the way, just to finish, prisoners.  So they come back, we get our prisoners but then when I hear the other day that now this deal is done, it's all done.  And now I hear, they want to negotiate to get the [prisoners].  And what did they say?  They said very strongly, they said, 'We are going to want a lot for the prisoners.'  We're staring off [with Iran saying] we're going to want a lot.  Now we've already taken off the sanctions.  They're already rich as hell.  What-what's going on there?  That's why I say -- Some people say it's worse than stupidity, there's something going on that we don't know about.  I mean honestly.  And you almost think -- I mean, I'm not saying that, And I'm not a conspiracy person.  [Referring to a member of the audience] She said, "We are! We''re saying it!"  Half the people in this room are saying it.  I'm trying to be -- like -- I'm just hoping they're stupid people.  Okay?  Which they are.

    bill van auken
    bloomberg news
    bbc news